Spring 2021 – Our Virtual Programs: A Summary


Spring 2021: Duke University Program to Honor Nawal El Saadawi; Master Class with Amara Lakhous; Lectures on Social Media and Social Justice, and Translation; Arabic Club Activities

The Spring semester of 2021 continued in virtual mode with the pandemic shaping our interactions against the hopeful backdrop of the vaccine rollout.

The Arab world’s leading feminist activist and writer Nawal El Saadawi passed away on Sunday March 21, 2021 at the age of 89.   A virtual program to honor Nawal El Saadawi was hosted by Duke University (where El Saadawi had taught from 1993-7) with leading scholars on women in the Middle East (3/29/2021).  Several of the students attended and appreciated hearing from scholars – and graduate students – on how El Saadawi impacted their lives with her creativity, tenacity, and courage.

A highlight of the semester was the Master Class with Algerian-Italian novelist Amara Lakhous that included a discussion and close reading of a passage in his 2006 novel “Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazzo Vittorio” (4/22/21).  MEST co-sponsored the master class and contributed to the purchase of the novel for our students.  The novel, novelist, and master class were a hit!

MEST also co-sponsored three speakers with the Clarke Forum:

  1. Allissa Richardson, University of Southern California, who spoke on using social media to protect civil rights and social justice in a lecture entitled “Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, and the Fight to Preserve Our Democracy — One Video at a Time.” (2/3/21)
  2. Lawrence Venuti, Professor Emeritus of English at Temple University, a translation theorist and historian, who spoke of the theory and practice of translation. (3/23/21)
  3. A panel discussion “Reflections on 9/11 Twenty Years Later” that included Dickinson professors (with David Commins as moderator), alumni, and a member of the Islamic Center (9/9/21). This was our first in-person event since the pandemic!

The student-led Arabic Club continued its online activities with fun games and the newsletter in Spring 2021 and in person this Fall 2021.  The president of the club (Caitlyn Longest) passed on the baton to a new president (Xenia Makosky) as she is studying abroad this Fall of 2021.  Gratefully, as we returned to campus this fall, we have had numerous well-attended activities including movie nights and discussion; a detailed presentation on the Critical Language Scholarship program; and a presentation on the US experience of our two Arab international students from Egypt and Palestine.




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